Saturday, November 24, 2012

$325 million

There is yet another potential lottery jackpot available tonight. One of those "balls" lotteries is set to go off.  Powerball, Lottoball ... something like that.  I don't play enough to truly understand the thing.

When the jackpot gets over $200 million, a bunch of us at work put-in two dollars each and buy a bunch of tickets.  As you can no doubt tell, we have never won. Otherwise, I'd be writing this from Sedona, Arizona shitfaced on Mai Tai's and ordering prostitutes on the Craigslist.

For some reason, the work group only collects when the jackpot gets to a certain level - as though winning $50 million isn't as big a deal as winning $200 million.  It's not the 50 or 200 as much as it is the "million" part that appeals to me.

I'm not a greedy person.  I could do very well with $20,000 and say "thank you."  After all, $200 million is a controversial amount of money.  When the Phillies paid Ryan Howard $200 million, lots of people said, "He's not worth it," even though he possesses a marketable skill.  When a schlub from Iowa wins $200 million for buying a lottery ticket, people say, "Good for him!"  Where is the perspective?

$325 million is almost a million dollars a day for a whole year.  Try spending that, although I guess some people could.

I was watching a History Channel program today called "The Men Who Built America," and I was thinking about how all of them were self-made millionaires.  People like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie.  As part of the program, they interviewed contemporaries like Donald Trump, Jack Walsh, and Mark Cuban.  Nowhere in the documentary did their description start with the line, "...after winning the lottery."

 On March 12, 1964, New Hampshire became the first state to sell lottery tickets in the modern era.
  In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed with Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia as its charter members; it is best known for Powerball, which was designed to create large jackpots. Another joint lottery, The Big Game (now called Mega Millions), was formed in 1996 by six other lotteries as its charter members.

That's a lot of lotteries, and I can't remember any entrepreneur saying, "Well, once I got that lottery money ..." as part of his biography.  Mostly, I'd guess, it's been given to people who either squandered it, lost it in some Ponzi scheme or spent it on crap.

I don't know what each person's motivation is for playing a lottery and I certainly can't guess what they would do with the money if they won.  Suffice it to say that $325 million is a lot of money to give to any one person and I wonder about the wisdom of giving that much money to someone who does nothing but gamble their money on the flight of some ping pong balls.

To say nothing of what it might do for property values in Sedona or the popularity of prostitutes on Craigslist.  And there's some real powerball for ya.

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